A new discretionary business rate relief scheme has been launched this week providing extra financial support to businesses making a positive contribution to inclusive growth in Leeds, in the face of growing economic pressures.

The support will be targeted at social enterprises, businesses that are in their first three years of trading, and businesses which have a social or civic purpose that deliver wider benefits to local people and communities.

Successful applicants will receive up to £15,000 off their annual business rate bills, which it is hoped, will give recipients more scope for investing in innovation, research and development or ease growing pressure on operating costs.

The support is intended to allow firms to retain and create the kind of high-quality employment opportunities that underpin the council’s ambitions for inclusive growth.

Businesses chosen for assistance will be expected to sign a corporate and social responsibility pledge that will see them commit to actions such as hosting community-based activities or improving the skills and employability of young people in education.

The new scheme has a capped budget of £1.75m per annum, with 50 per-cent of its costs being met by central government. Priority will be given to applications from businesses occupying premises that have a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Providing rate relief is seen as a cost-effective way of helping firms maintain or scale up their presence in Leeds, with their continued and potentially increased contribution to the local business rates base also generating useful future income for the council.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “The discretionary business rate relief scheme will allow us to support our local economy while helping us deliver value for the taxpayer and local communities, by supporting businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs whose products and services have a positive impact on life in Leeds.

“The scheme directly supports the council’s inclusive growth strategy, by supporting business in the creation and retention of quality jobs in the face of current economic pressures.

“I would encourage all business across Leeds who feel they may be eligible for the scheme to apply as funds are limited.”